Nov.11, 2013

Embedding electronics inside of objects in a single build process has been a long sought after goal in 3D printing. Brisbane, Australia based Cartesian Co has designed and built the EX¹ printer which allows you to 3D print circuit boards, layering silver nano particles onto paper or any suitable surface to rapidly create a circuit board.

The EX¹ printer is not designed to create any 3D object like normal 3D printers. The basic principle of operation is, two inkjet cartridges similar to the ones in your desktop printer print images on a substrate, but instead of ink they lay down two different chemicals. When these two chemicals mix, a reaction occurs to produce silver nano particles, leaving a silver image on the substrate.

The print area is 17.5 x 8cm (6.9 x 3.2in) and the size of the printer is 43 X 32 X 17cm (17 x 12.6 x 6.7in), almost the same size as your Canon or Epson printer at home. Weighing in at only 6kg (13.5lb) it's very portable to be taken to work or your local hackerspace.

The team develops the software to let you import an image, have control over all printing variable. The print process is as easy as clicking File > Print. The printer was designed to be made with off the shelf components - rods, bearings, motors, bolts, etc. are standard - so users can upgrade or improve at home very easily.

In addition to more conventional circuit board materials the EX¹ can print on a variety of different materials, include plastic (many types), glass, wood, ceramic, silicone and even fabric and paper.

Close up of a surface mount circuit printed straight onto paper

Arduino compatible microcontroller printed on kapton and wood

The ability to print flexible circuits on such a variety of different surfaces means that people can be more creative and experimental with electronics than ever before," writes the team. It lets you create wearable electronics, paper circuits, printed computers or whatever you would like to have. Meanwhile the team is developing new ink formulations and processes, as well as new ways of treating and coating materials to ensure more possibilities for EX¹ printer.

Cartesian Co is now launched on Kickstarter aiming to raise $30,000 in 30 days for the development of the EX¹ printer. Only five 'super early bird' kits were available at $899, but as of writing, they are all gone. And 20 'early bird' kits are offered at a special price $1,199 with an estimated delivery around July 2014.

Check out more info or support the project here on Kickstarter.

Posted in 3D Printers



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